This week, R. Eric Thomas and Nadir Goffe discuss a Prudie letter: “Feeling Left Behind”
R. Eric Thomas: Nadira! Hello! Very glad to be on the horn with you again, this time parsing platonic love and what happens when our besties get boo’d up. What did you make of today’s dilemma?
Nadira Goffe: I can’t lie: This made me so sad in the same way rom-coms make me sad (but then have happy endings! I really hope this will end up having a happy ending). I think this is a really complex letter because … there’s so much unsaid! And it might not be the fault of the LW per se; I genuinely think that the LW has a few things they need to figure out for themselves or about themselves before taking this any further.
Eric: I agree. I’ve felt blue when friends didn’t have as much time for me when they got partners, but the depth of this sadness says a lot. What I hope is that the LW is able to recognize how much a friend’s partner can expand and deepen a preexisting friendship too.
Nadira: Absolutely! I think what made this hit home for me is that we can all relate to that initial worry of how our friendship with someone will be impacted by that other person developing a romantic partnership with someone else. But, in my experience, some of my closest friends’ significant others are also now some of my favorite people. I think the real issue here is that the LW needs to be really honest with themselves about how they feel about Taylor.
Do we … think the LW is in love with Taylor? The LW needs to figure this out, alongside deciding what platonic vs. romantic relationships mean for them and what they—to the best of their knowledge—mean for Taylor.
Eric: I think … probably a little? This is where the romcom vibes come in for me, too. It feels a little star-crossed but also a little obvious in a When Harry Met Sally kind of way. Harry and Sally pushed it off for years, and arguably neither was ready for the other until they were. But they could have stayed just friends if they wanted. I think … hmm. I don’t know about Harry and Sally, but I believe that Taylor and LW can stay platonic, at least from what’s written.
Nadira: It feels … dare I say it (though it be one of my favorite tropes) …a little unrequited. But, like you point out! Sometimes that’s a product of timing, not desirability or compatibility.
Here’s the thing: We’re all human (and adults in this case!), and we need more than just friends and more than just romantic relationships. There are certain comforts and support that one can provide that the other can’t. It’s not the wisest thing to seek both in one person for yourself, but it’s actually deeply unfair to someone else to place them in both positions. Especially if they’re actively seeking to find connections in one of those categories elsewhere.
The LW needs to establish what is that they need and what is it that they want. And they need to find a way to get both without doing a disservice to the other person. If everything is as the LW says, I agree—it seems like, at least for right now—they can remain platonic. But that will mean forfeiting some of the ways the LW has idealized this relationship as a seemingly quasi-romantic one.
Eric: I’m struck by the LW’s choice to eschew dating right now. While we all get taking a break, I worry that LW took a break because she’d inadvertently found part of what she was looking for. I wonder if you think talking about any of this with Taylor is useful. I didn’t recommend it in my response because most of this feels like LW’s responsibility to work out. But I still wonder.
Nadira: Yes! That’s a great point—and a solid worry. I think you might be right! But I do think that is doing both of them a disservice. I think in your response you said it best: She’s definitely not trying to replace you! And I think it’s sort of clear what Taylor wants, at least. I think the LW should only really talk this through with Taylor if they decide they want to rock the boat in some major way. Other than that, if it is just platonic concern, they can bring it up like you mentioned. But really, what Taylor would want most it seems, is support in this endeavor from their best friend. But if you can’t provide that for Taylor, then you should really assess the reason why.
Eric: Yes! What’s beautiful about this problem is that it’s an opportunity to check in with herself and to show up more for a friend.
Nadira: Absolutely! I, for one, am hopeful that it will all work out and will help the LW grow in the long run. Not for nothing, this is also a great opportunity to binge-watch some rom-coms for “research.”